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Pope Francis condemns the rejection of refugees in Easter speech

March 31, 2016 · 

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Pope Francis (R) leads the Easter Sunday mass on March 27, 2016 at St Peter’s square in Vatican. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter. (AFP/Alberto Pizzoli)

 

Pope Francis has criticized the “rejection” of refugees by the countries that could offer help, as European countries have been acting to stop an unprecedented inflow of refugees.

“The Easter message of the risen Christ… invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees… fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice,” the Pope said in his Easter message on Sunday.

“All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance,” the leader of the Roman Catholic Church added.

Pope Francis has frequently urged the international community to fight xenophobia and open doors to refugees.

His latest remarks come as Europe has been witnessing an unprecedented influx of refugees who are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria. Last year, more than a million refugees entered Europe. Many blame the interventionist and hegemonic policies of Western powers and their regional allies for the spread of violence in the region.

The European Union (EU) and Turkey have recently agreed on a plan to curb the flow of refugees who cross from Turkey to Greek islands by boats. Human rights organizations and UN agencies have criticized the agreement, saying it would lead to the illegal return of refugees who face conflict or prosecution in their homelands.

In his Sunday remarks, Pope Francis also referred to Syria’s five-year-long conflict with “its sad wake of destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law.” He further raised hope that the warring sides in Syria would soon settle their differences and end the conflict.

“Good will and the cooperation of all will bear fruit in peace and initiate the building of a fraternal society,”he added.

A ceasefire agreement devised by Russia and the United States, which came into force across Syria on February 27, has been holding despite minor reports of violations.

Delegates from the Syrian government and opposition groups are anticipated to resume talks in April.

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